Central State Museum
The Central State Museum provides a convenient one-stop shop of Kazakh history, ethnography, archaeology and geology. Seeing it all in detail would be an undertaking of several hours but it’s eminently possible to cherry-pick the exhibits that most interest you. Particular highlights include the ethnography hall, with its yurt mock-up and beautiful regional costumes and artifacts; the exhibit detailing the country’s experiences under Communism and during the Second World War which boasts a wealth of contemporary materials; and the hall dedicated to Kazakhstan’s establishment as an independent republic, complete with the fascinating ephemera of this proud new state and its emergence on the world stage. Also unmissable is the replica of that famous Kazakh emblem in the entrance hall – the Scythian Golden Man. It’s possible to discover more about it downstairs in the in-depth antiquity exhibit, although sadly captions throughout the museum have only been sporadically translated into English. The museum is also home to a decent gift shop where it’s possible to pick up a wide range of souvenirs.